Our press and politicians are fond of referring to the men and women of our armed forces as "heroes," and saying that we owe them a great debt. In large part, I disagree. Most of our armed forces are not my heroes. At best, they are victims of their own ignorance who have damaged themselves and others. I might feel sorry for some of them, but they are hardly heroes.
Our armed forces are volunteers. Each and every member of the armed forces chose to join the military. Moreover, anyone who joined the military since approximately January 1, 2003, knew that they would likely serve in the invasion of Iraq: a fiasco of mind-boggling proportions that has cost this country hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of lives and irreparably harmed the reputation of this country, not to mention what it has done to the people of Iraq.
I fail to see how volunteering to participate in the invasion of Iraq qualifies one as a hero. I agree that a person's motivation in agreeing to serve is morally relevant. Some members of the armed services thought the invasion was a good idea. They were wrong, and their mistake damaged both themselves and others: not heroes. They may be good people, but they made a bad mistake and we are all paying the costs.
Some soldiers may have not concerned themselves with the merits of the mission, and simply joined out of a sense of loyalty to the country. Given that the country made a decision to attack, they volunteered to be the ones to put their lives on the line. Those who served Hitler could make the same argument: "It is not my business whether my country should be at war, I should always support my country." Blind allegiance to any one or anything is dangerous, and anyone who is willing to risk their life because George Bush wants to start a war is anything but a hero.